If a woman sat down across from you on a train and struck up a conversation, you probably wouldn’t think anything of it. If that woman then told you there was a bag full of cash hidden in the washroom and it was yours (plus more!) if you did one small, seemingly insignificant favour for her, would you be suspicious yet? What if moments after making the odd offer she disappeared and then called you on another passenger’s cell phone? Is your instinct to run? If so, you are officially way ahead of Liam Neeson in this equal parts snooze-fest and completely insane thriller.
After a particularly bad day at work, Neeson boards his regular commuter train to head back home. After the mystery woman (played by Vera Farmiga) makes her offer (he has to figure out who a passenger is based on very few clues and tag them with a GPS tracker) Neeson agrees to it and then almost immediately tries to back out.
Unfortunately, the mystery woman and her organization (about which you will learn nothing, other than they seem to have unstoppable, inexplicable power) threaten his family and Neeson finds himself in a bind. The whodunit portion of the movie is pretty slow considering it takes place on a fast moving train (which — fair warning –if you are at all sensitive to motion sickness will make you literally nauseous). Unfortunately, you’re able to figure out the twist almost immediately once it begins and that’s because it’s been done a million times before and much better.
Neeson gives another solid performance as sexagenarian action star – at 6’3 he is a sizeable opponent and can take out men half his age with ease thanks to movie magic.
Unfortunately the plot is thin (even for an action movie) and the action scenes aren’t formidable enough to make up for it.
Farmiga is appropriately cryptic as the mysterious messenger but her character’s development is limited to that single characteristic so it doesn’t give the former Oscar nominee much to do.
In the end, The Commuter is a fast train going nowhere – you’re better off skipping this ride.